International Herald Tribune
Published: June 26, 2008
HARARE, Zimbabwe: As Zimbabwe's neighbors urged it to postpone this week's
presidential runoff, hundreds of beaten, newly homeless Zimbabweans gathered
Wednesday outside the South African Embassy here in a desperate bid for help
during the electoral crisis.
By 8:30 p.m., around 400 people, mainly men displaced by the recent
political violence, were pulling down their woolen caps and hunching into
thin jackets to sit out one of the coldest nights this winter. Few of them
had eaten in the last several days; they began converging outside the
embassy in hopes of finding food, water and medical attention.
"The situation is absolutely desperate," said an opposition official trying
to find shelter for 80 women and children at the site.
The scene unfolded amid a scramble of regional and international diplomacy,
with many African and Western nations saying the vote set for Friday would
be neither free nor fair.
On Wednesday, officials from Swaziland, Angola and Tanzania - the so-called
troika empowered to speak for the Southern African Development Community, a
regional bloc of 14 nations - called on Zimbabwe to put off the voting
because the current crisis would undermine its legitimacy.
Among the most damning voices raised in criticism was that of Nelson
Mandela, the former South African president, who, at a dinner in London,
condemned a "tragic failure of leadership in Zimbabwe." He did not identify
the object of his criticism by name.
Taking a different tack, Queen Elizabeth II stripped Robert Mugabe, the
country's president for nearly 30 years, of his honorary knighthood as a
"mark of revulsion" at the human rights abuses and "abject disregard" for
democracy over which he is presiding, the British Foreign Office said
The rebukes reflected the mounting international frustration over Mugabe's
insistence in going ahead with the runoff on Friday, even though his sole
opponent, Morgan Tsvangirai, pulled out of the race on Sunday. Tsvangirai
cited the persistent violence and intimidation against him, his party and
Mugabe's government has had a long history of human rights abuses, but he
was granted the honorary knighthood during an official visit to Britain in
1994 when, the Foreign Office said, "the conditions in Zimbabwe were very
With the widespread attacks on the opposition, the Foreign Office said the
honor could no longer be justified. Stripping away the title is exceedingly
rare. A Foreign Office spokesman could think of only one other time it had
been done: in 1989 with the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.
Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, was quoted on Wednesday as calling on the
United Nations to send peacekeepers to bring calm and help pave the way for
new elections in which he could participate as a "legitimate candidate."
"Zimbabwe will break if the world does not come to our aid," he said in an
op-ed article whose authorship was attributed to him in The Guardian
newspaper in London. On Thursday, however, Tsvangirai distanced himself from
the article, saying it "does not reflect my positions or opinions regarding
solutions to the Zimbabwean crisis."
"I am not advocating for military intervention in Zimbabwe by the United
Nations or any other organization," his statement said.
Tsvangirai took refuge in the Dutch Embassy here on Sunday. He emerged
briefly on Wednesday to hold a news conference in which he proposed
negotiations, but only if Mugabe canceled the runoff first.
"We have said we are prepared to negotiate on this side of the 27th, not the
other side of the 27th," Tsvangirai said, according to Reuters.
In an interview in The Times of London Thursday, Tsvangirai was quoted as
reiterating his demand for negotiations instead of elections. "Negotiations
will be over if Mugabe declares himself the winner and considers himself the
president. How can we negotiate?" he was quoted as saying.
The U.S. ambassador in Harare, James McGee, said that Mugabe and his party,
ZANU-PF, were determined to hold the runoff "at all costs," according to the
"We've received reports that ZANU-PF will force people to vote on Friday and
also take action against those who refuse to vote," McGee said in a
conference call described by the State Department.
All over the country, destitute people have fled the violence, and are now
looking for food, shelter, protection and medical care.
One woman at a church in Harare held her 11-month-old baby, who had casts on
his tiny legs. She said that after her husband, an opposition organizer,
went into hiding she had gotten word that ZANU-PF supporters were looking
for her, too. She fled with the boy.
She returned home the next day, though, and that is when "the youth," as
foot soldiers of the governing party are often called, came looking for her,
she said. They snatched her son from the bed and hurled him onto the
concrete floor, shattering his legs, she said.
Afterward, she was too terrified to move. But that night, when all was
quiet, she set out for the opposition headquarters, Harvest House, to seek
help there. She was able to carry only her distraught child, and the 12-mile
walk took most of the night.
Harvest House was bursting with refugees, but she was able to get care at a
hospital. Now her son's legs stick out at an odd angle below his blue romper
suit, encased in plaster casts.
The woman's blanket was stolen, and because she has been surviving on one
meal a day, her thin skirt and jacket hang on her. Her thin legs look as if
they, too, might snap.
But when she looks at her baby, her strained face softens and becomes
beautiful again. For three days the boy has had only water, she said,
because her breast milk has dried up.
"I hate Zimbabwe," she said. "I want to leave."
Alan Cowell contributed reporting from Paris and Graham Bowley from New
Published: Thursday, June 26, 2008
Los Angeles Times
HARARE, Zimbabwe -- At meetings across the nation, officials of Zimbabwe's
ruling ZANU-PF party have warned voters how they will know who casts ballots
against longtime President Robert Mugabe in Friday's scheduled runoff
election: serial numbers.
The officials tell people that the ballot number will allow the ruling party
to identify who has voted for the opposition so that they can be killed
later, according to people who attended meetings in three different
neighborhoods around the nation's capital.
Ndaziweye, a 60-year-old domestic worker who asked to be identified by her
first name only, said she was forced by a group of ZANU-PF youths to go to
such a meeting of about 400 people on the outskirts of Harare on her way
back from church Sunday.
Opposition and human rights activists have also reported forced "pungwes" or
re-education meetings across the nation to intimidate people into voting
ZANU-PF through methods such as the serial numbers. The meetings began a few
weeks after the March 29 election, but only recently have been used to issue
threats about serial numbers on ballot papers.
A ZANU-PF official, who disagreed with the strategy, confirmed that ZANU-PF
war veterans and militia were spreading fear about the serial numbers to
intimidate voters. He said there were about 900 militia bases across the
country, one in every voting ward.
The atmosphere at Sunday's meeting was loud and frenzied, almost festive,
Ndaziweye said, making it even more worrisome. ZANU-PF youths sang and
"I was shocked because whenever anyone gave a speech, everyone would yell,
'We will kill! We will kill!' The youths were singing horrible songs and
The short, slight woman with ancient spectacles and frayed shoes said that
despite the possible consequences, she will vote against Mugabe, if he
defies international pressure and pushes ahead with the runoff vote Friday.
"I am voting for what I want, even if they kill me," she said. "I don't
mind, as long as I vote for the person who's going to do something so that
people don't starve. I'm voting for my grandchildren so that they can get an
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, citing rising political violence by
Mugabe supporters, formally withdrew from the election Tuesday, informing
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission in writing of his decision. International
leaders and bodies including the U.N. Security Council have praised the
Movement for Democratic Change leader's choice, saying that a free and fair
election is impossible at this point given the level of intimidation by the
Nonetheless, Mugabe, who has served as president since 1980, told a rally in
western Zimbabwe the election must go ahead "to fulfill a legal obligation."
At Sunday's meeting, Ndaziweye knew that she stuck out like a sore thumb.
She was one of the few not wearing a ZANU-PF scarf or T-shirt, she said.
"The women and youth were accusing me of being MDC."
But the most frightening moment came when the provincial chairman said that
each voter would have to write the serial number of their ballot paper on
their arm before entering the voting booth.
"When you come out, you have to show the number to your party chairman and
they will write it down with your name and ID number. So after voting, they
will know how you voted. If you are going to vote for Morgan, that will be
the end of your life," she said Tuesday.
"They said, 'Even if you run away, we'll chop the heads off whoever you
leave behind at your house. We don't care if it's your children or your
grandchildren,' " the mother of four recounted.
"Even the ladies, even the Women's League chairwoman, was talking about
killing, saying, 'Don't vote for Tsvangirai or the youth will kill you. We
have got strong youth and we are not joking. We are serious.' They said,
'This is not America.' "
Tobaiwa, 33, who also asked to be identified by his first name only, has
been attending meetings in a suburb south of Harare every day for the last
two weeks. He said he was severely beaten by ZANU-PF youth militias for
failing to attend one meeting because he was at work.
The message about serial numbers on the ballot papers was being repeated
daily, he said.
He said people at the meetings were warned those who voted for the
opposition would face severe retribution.
People were given the option of approaching the presiding officer at the
polling booth, pretending to be illiterate and telling the official to
record a vote for Mugabe, he said.
Tobaiwa voted for Tsvangirai in the first round of the presidential election
on March 29, but plans to stay away Friday.
Despite Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the race because of the violence,
Ndaziweye thinks it is still important for people to vote.
"People must be brave, even though Mugabe has said he is not going to give
up. It's better that we show Tsvangirai has won, even if we know he's not
going to be president until after Mugabe dies."
June 26, 2008
In a visit with the Tribune editorial board Wednesday in Chicago, civil
rights leader Jesse Jackson added his voice to the criticisms of South
African President Thabo Mbeki's quiet approach to the Zimbabwe crisis,
calling for stronger regional diplomatic efforts. Following are excerpts of
"I don't know what all is holding Mbeki up, but it seems the leadership that
people expected him to offer has not been forthcoming. ... I just don't
understand, except maybe if it becomes any harder, you're simply going to
encourage more mass migration into South Africa.
"The African National Congress [South Africa's ruling party] said something
to the effect that Zimbabwe solves [Zimbabwe's] problem. When they were
under apartheid, that was not the position they took. They said ... 'We need
global help to end this system.' Well, they did not retreat to isolationism
then, because apartheid was global, we were all interconnected. We cannot
have an isolation approach on Zimbabwe now.
"Certainly there cannot be silence about it, because silence looks to be
consent, and silence is in fact betrayal. I think the African Union must
take a stronger role. They cannot let the romance of their relationship with
Mugabe and his heroic days neutralize their actions ... .
"It's only going to get worse, and it will not be contained in Zimbabwe.
People are right now fleeing for their lives into bordering states. It could
sink the southern African [region]. That should not be allowed to happen."
By Tom Peterkin
Last Updated: 8:21AM BST 26/06/2008
Morgan Tsvangirai has warned Robert Mugabe that he will be exposed as a
brutal and illegitimate dictator unless he commits to a compromise with
Zimbabwe's opposition in the next 24 hours.
Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition party, said the time for
talking would be over if Mr Mugabe went ahead with tomorrow's election in
The leader of the Movement for Democratic Change party has pulled out of the
run-off election blaming Mr Mugabwe's government saying that contesting the
poll would put his supporters' lives at risk.
Now taking refuge in the Dutch embassy in Harare, Mr Tsvangiri said:
"Negotiations will be over if Mr Mugabe declares himself the winner and
considers himself the president. How can we negotiate?"
If Mr Mugabe approached him after the election, Mr Tsvangirai said he would
refuse to deal with him.
"I told you I would negotiate before the elections and not after - because
it's not about elections, it's about transition.
"You disregarded that, you undertook violence against my supporters, you
killed and maimed, you are still killing and maiming unarmed civilians, the
army is still out there.
"How can you call yourself an elected president? You are illegitimate and I
will not speak to an illegitimate president."
Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the contest after winning the first round of
election in March. The narrow margin of his victory led to the government
insisting on a run-off election.
African leaders including Nelson Mandela, the former South Africa president,
have called on Mr Mugabe to call off the presidential election.
Mr Mandela, who these days rarely steps into the political arena, condemned
the "tragic failure of leadership" in Zimbabwe at a dinner in London marking
his 90th birthday.
Condoleezza Rice, the U S Secretary of State, warned Mr Mugabe against
declaring victory tomorrow (Friday).
"Clearly, no run-off election that doesn't have the participation of
opposition ... can be considered legitimate, no outcome can be considered
legitimate," she said in Kyoto, where she is attending a meeting of foreign
ministers from the Group of Eight industrialised nations.
By Tom Rawstorne Last updated at 11:55 PM on 25th June 2008
At first glance, it is a question far removed from the world's most desperate
country: What do Barclays Bank, the Post Office, London Underground and a pack
of sugarsnap peas from Tesco all have in common?
The answer is Zimbabwe - and it's a link that none of those major British
institutions is likely to shout about.
But a groundswell of ordinary citizens are prepared to do just that.
Fed up with the continued inaction of the Government, the pressure is
mounting for consumers to take direct action against companies that have
anything to do with President Robert Mugabe's abhorrent regime.
And there is no shortage of targets to aim at. Despite so-called 'smart' sanctions imposed by the European Union to target Mugabe's Zanu-PF ruling elite without adding further misery to the country's ordinary citizens, it seems that a number of British and European firms are finding ways to sidestep the rules, or trading openly with the hateful regime.
Among those breaking the spirit, if not the letter, of measures designed to
weaken Mugabe's stranglehold are British banks and financial institutions such
as Barclays, which are estimated to have pumped some £500million into the
Equally questionable are the actions of giant British mining companies such
as Rio Tinto and Anglo American.
This week, it was revealed that Anglo is investing £200million in a new
platinum mine in Zimbabwe.
The company's defence, which many would argue is fully justified, is that
it's for the good of local employees facing increasing poverty.
Then there are the UK supermarket giants - Tesco, Morrisons and Waitrose -
who, as the Mail reported yesterday, continue to source fish and vegetables from
a country where millions starve.
Again, they say the work supports ordinary Zimbabweans (Tesco claims its
contract with Zimbabwean suppliers supports 4,000 workers).
Even the firm that prints Mugabe's banknotes is based in Europe, with
numerous links to Britain.
Critics say that - directly or indirectly - such firms are helping to prop up
Mugabe as he battles to retain power through increasingly brutal means.
Surely this is an unfair accusation? Not according to Liberal Democrat MP
'There is lots of wringing of hands about this humanitarian disaster, but we
are getting nowhere so it is up to us, the citizens, to act,' he says. 'I want
shareholder action, trades union action and direct action. And I want it now.'
Justification: Tesco said their business with Zimbabwe supports hardworking farmers
So which firms might find themselves in the firing line? Perhaps the most
high-profile one is Barclays.
When it comes to direct action, the bank is an old hand. Accused of
supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa throughout the Seventies and
Eighties, it was subjected to years of boycotts and campaigns before finally
closing its operations there in 1986.
Now it faces similar controversy over Zimbabwe. EU sanctions in Zimbabwe -
first imposed in 2002 - prohibit any British bank from giving financial services
to individuals connected with the government.
But in a controversial arrangement, Barclays has allowed millions to be distributed to Mugabe's henchmen through an agricultural scheme that effectively rewards those who grabbed land from white farmers.
Four of Mugabe's ministers, men with blood on their hands, are even said to
have been allowed to open their own accounts with Barclays.
How on earth does Barclays - in most other ways, an exemplary British company
- get away it?
By operating through a local subsidiary, Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe (BBZ),
which is locally incorporated and in which Barclays owns a 67 per cent stake,
thus enabling it to step outside the EU's rules and regulations.
And so it was that last year Mugabe's regime benefited to the tune of some
£23million from BBZ's purchase of Zimbabwean government and municipal bonds.
The bank says buying these bonds is a condition of operating in the country
and all financial institutions must comply with it. If so, say critics, Barclays
should pull out.
Import: Tesco's Sugarsnap peas come from Zimbabwe
They are equally angered by contributions that Barclays made to a
government-run loan scheme for farm improvements, the so-called Agricultural
Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF).
Under this scheme, intended to boost agricultural production, at least five
ministers received loans for farms seized from white Zimbabweans.
Influential newsletter Africa Confidential alleges that even Mugabe himself
has received money from the fund, via a Barclays account belonging to his
associate, Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono.
Barclays refuses to comment on any individual account, but insists it is
compelled to contribute to ASPEF, that all its actions comply with the EU
sanctions and that it 'always seeks to conduct its business in an ethical and
It adds that it has been in the country for almost 100 years and its presence
is crucial for those it employs and those who rely on its banking services.
Others are less sure.
They estimate that Barclays, with Standard Chartered Bank and insurance firm
Old Mutual, provided an estimated £500 million in direct and indirect funding to
Mugabe's regime - what one influential commentator described as an 'economic
Norman Lamb, the Liberal MP for North Norfolk with a particular interest in
international development, agrees and says it is precisely for the greater good
of the Zimbabwean people that the British banks should pull out and pull out
'We have got to a point where we have to destroy the regime at all costs,' he
says. 'At the moment it is staggering on, and that is in part because of the
financial support the British institutions provide.'
From banks, we move to banknotes - and the controversy surrounding
Munich-based company Giesecke & Devrient (G&D).
Though the arrangement is shrouded in secrecy, it is understood that the
company has been making weekly deliveries of some 432,000 sheets of banknotes to
Each sheet contains 40 notes with the denomination produced changing every
week to keep ahead of the country's runaway inflation.
Experts say these notes have been used to award pay rises to the army to buy
Teachers belonging to a union loyal to the government have also been given
large sums. 'G&D is literally bankrolling the regime,' said one Zimbabwean
banker who cannot be named for fear of reprisals.
'These notes are used to buy votes, purchase foreign exchange, import
electricity and vehicles to keep their regime going, and fund the import of
Chinese water cannons and police equipment to keep us intimidated.
'They are profiting from evil and should be named and shamed.'
Controversial: Barclays has allowed millions to be distributed to Mugabe's henchmen
But under the current EU sanctions - which do not cover the provision of such
commercial services - there is nothing the German government can do to stop
(Contacted by the Daily Mail, G&D refused to comment on who it supplied
banknotes to. It added that it met all the requirements and rules and
regulations laid down by the World Bank and the EU.)
But now, growing pressure is being put on companies doing business with
G&D in a bid to persuade it to pull out of the Zimbabwe contract.
In Britain, companies linked to G&D include Halifax Bank of Scotland, the
Royal Bank of Scotland and the Post Office (for which it produces
banknote-counting machines), as well as O2 (its mobile phone SIM cards are made
by G&D), and Transport for London (which relies on G&D for Oyster
prepayment cards, used by millions of commuters).
Last night, the Post Office vowed to investigate further, while a Transport
for London spokesman revealed its contract with G&D would terminate in
No reason was given. A spokesman for O2 said: 'We are watching the situation
in Zimbabwe with a great deal of concern and are reviewing our existing ethical
procurement policies to provide greater assurance that behaviour by our
commercial partners is consistent with our own business principles.'
Yet if those British companies can (rightly) claim to have only an indirect
link to Zimbabwe, the same cannot be said of the London-based mining giant Anglo
Yesterday, it emerged that the firm, which is listed in the FTSE100, is to
make what is believed to be the largest foreign investment in Zimbabwe to date.
It plans to invest £200 million to build a platinum mine at Unki, in central
Zimbabwe. The firm employs 188 people and a further 450 contractors at Unki and
hopes to be producing platinum, one of the world's most expensive metals, by
'We are developing the Unki platinum project because we have responsibility
to our employees, contractors and the local community,' a spokesman said. 'We
are keeping the situation under close watch.'
But news of the investment provoked an outpouring of criticism. 'Any company
doing business in Zimbabwe is keeping that regime alive,' Roy Bennett, treasurer
of Zimbabwe's opposition MDC party, said.
'Anglo American is complicit with the regime as whatever they are doing in
Zimbabwe has the endorsement of the regime. The money they invest is a lifeline
to the politicians and government of Zanu-PF.'
In Britain, Peter Luff MP, Conservative chairman of the Business and
Regulatory Reform Select Committee, added: 'This is a curiously bad investment.
Mugabe may interpret it as a vote of confidence. How can a company possibly
satisfy itself that this investment will be seen as truly ethical in its nature
at this moment?
'Zimbabwe will change and those who will be seen to have supported the old regime may in the long term pay a heavy price for that decision.'
Thursday, 26 June 2008 08:21
Zimbabweans from all walks of life, friends, supporters and well
wishers are invited to a joint DEMO of all progressive forces that includes
the Vigil, MDC UK & Ireland, Zimbabwe Association, Zimbabwe Community Group
etc this Friday 27/06/08 at 10.00 hrs at Zimbabwe House, 428 The Strand.
Among other objectives for this Demonstration will be,
[a] To congratulate President Morgan Richard Tsvangirai and the MDC
for withdrawing from a fake election.
[b] Praise the world statesman of our time Mr Nelson Mandela for
openly criticising Robert Mugabe for killing Democracy in Zimbabwe and
murdering his own people.
[c] Welcome the statement from the President of ANC in South Africa Mr
Jacob Zuma accepting that Zimbabwe is now out of control.
[d] Denounce the South African President Thambo Mbeki for mantaining
his shocking Quiet Diplomacy.
[e] Demand from SADC, AU, EU and UN for a Peace Keeping Force,
Election Observers in Zimbabwe before we can talk of a Presidential
[f] Demand from SADC, AU, UN and all the countries to withdraw their
recognition of Mugabe's Illegal regime, isolate it and impose meaningfull
sanctions, starting South Africa withdrawing the supply of electricity to
the despotic regime.
[g] Demand the Release of all MDC leadership, activisits and
supporters who are being kept behind bars by this illegal regime.
[h] Demand that all criminals responsible for murder, torture, rape,
beatings and burning of house be well documented to be brought to justice in
a Democratic Zimbabwe.
Our thoughts are with the National Youth Chairperson T. Mahlangu and
all Comrades who are fighting
for their lives in hospitals and clinics throughout the country.
Our thoughts are with the Secretary General Tendai Biti and all
Comrades who are in captivity illegally
in prisons and police stations throughout the country.
Our thoughts are with all Families who have been robbed of their loved
ones. Our Heroes and Heroines should not pass in vain.
Let us come in our hundreds and express our anger about the genocide
taking place in Zimbabwe.
The world should come together and stop the madness in our beloved
Change is Coming, Morgan Tsvangirai for President!!!
Jaison Andrew Matewu
MDC UK & IRELAND.
Thursday, June 26, 2008 - Web posted at 8:40:35 GMT
WASHINGTON - Zimbabwe's slide into political and economic chaos
represents one of the most dramatic declines in any country's governance
over the past decade, according to World Bank bank data released on Tuesday.
The report shows a sharp deterioration in Zimbabwe measured against
six indicators - rule of law, corruption, voice and accountability, quality
of regulations, political stability and government effectiveness.
Corruption and other government flaws have notably escalated in
Zimbabwe since 2000, according to the bank's Worldwide Governance
Indicators, based on the most comprehensive data from 212 countries.
In 2000, Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe began a controversial land
reform campaign in which the government seized white-owned farms, plunging
the country's economy into a severe crisis.
Since then, Mugabe has also come under increasing diplomatic pressure
from the West to step down after nearly 30 years in power, while the
country's opposition Movement for Democratic Change threatens his hold at
But Daniel Kaufmann, director of governance at the World Bank
Institute, said while governance in Zimbabwe had shown a "dramatic decline,"
it is not the only country faring badly on that front.
"There are some countries that on a number of dimensions of governance
rate below Zimbabwe or at the same level over a longer period of time, such
as North Korea or Myanmar," Kaufmann told reporters.
Other countries that did not score high included Venezuela, Ivory
Coast, Belarus, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan.
But the World Bank indicators also showed that good governance is not
only found in the world's richest countries, but can also be part of
faring better Over a dozen developing countries, notably Chile,
Botswana, Slovenia, Estonia, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Czech Republic, Hungary
and Lithuania all have vibrant democracies and little corruption, faring
better than industrialised nations such as Italy and Greece.
For example, the report rates Chile as nearly on a par with the United
States and France when it comes to controlling corruption.
The indicators cover 212 countries between 1996 and 2007 and draw from
35 different data sources that capture tens of thousands of surveys from the
private sector, experts, grassroots groups and non-governmental
For years African countries has been perceived as a region riddled
with corruption and ineffective government, but Kaufmann said there has been
significant improvement in eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, including
Ghana and Tanzania.
CORRUPTION CONTROL "Quite a few countries in Africa are making
inroads," he said.
"Progress reflects reforms in those countries where political leaders,
policy-makers, civil society and the private sector view good governance and
corruption control as crucial for sustained and shared growth."
While many African countries that show progress in governance are also
economically stronger, Kaufmann cautioned there was no evidence that higher
growth meant less corruption or more effective government.
The report noted significant improvements in governance in Liberia
since 2005 when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first female head
of state, took office following the West African country's elections.
Liberia scored higher on two fronts - controlling corruption and voice
and accountability - which cover how citizens are able to participate in
selecting their governments as well as freedom of expression and a free
America.gov (Washington, DC)
25 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008
President Mugabe stands in way of achieving political solution, U.S. says
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who has sought refuge in the Dutch
embassy, has called for political dialogue.
However, incumbent President Robert Mugabe "stands in the way" of
discussions, he said.
Zimbabwe's ruler intends to hold a sham presidential runoff election June
27, despite the fact that his challenger, MDC's Morgan Tsvangirai, withdrew
from the race after weeks of government-backed intimidation and violence
against real and suspected MDC supporters. Much of the international
community, including the United States, concluded before Tsvangirai's
withdrawal that the election would not be free and fair.
The wife of Harare's mayor-elect was buried June 25 after being kidnapped
and killed by Mugabe supporters.
"So far I don't think anyone has seen any interest on [Mugabe's] part in
doing the right thing here and in trying to do what is best for his country
and best for his people," Casey said.
"Frankly, it is a rather tragic occurrence that someone who would like to
view himself as something of the founder of his country's independence is so
intent on pursuing his own personal agenda and his own personal love of
power at the expense of his own people and the expense of his country."
The MDC's Tsvangirai has taken refuge in the Dutch Embassy in Harare. The
opposition leader "has every reason to be concerned" over the potential for
violence against himself, MDC supporters and others in the country, Casey
said, recalling Tsvangirai's brutal beating at the hands of Zimbabwean
police in March 2007. (See "United States Condemns Crackdown on Zimbabwe
Members of Zimbabwe's neighbors in the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) are meeting in Swaziland to discuss the situation in
Zimbabwe. Casey said the United States wants to see Zimbabwe's neighbors
"step up to this challenge" and play "an active role" in resolving the
crisis. "Frankly, we think that the members of SADC are in perhaps the best
position to be able to have influence over Mugabe and help in terms of
building on international efforts to achieve a political solution."
The spokesman pointed to African Union efforts to resolve the political
violence in Kenya early in 2008 as an example of African countries coming
together to solve challenges within their region.
"This is a real challenge. It's something that the Security Council has now
recognized as a threat to regional peace and security, and it's something
where we very much believe there can be a very important African role and
African leadership in achieving a solution."
The Tide, Nigeria
. Thursday, Jun 26, 2008
The political situation in Zimbabwe has continued to raise concerns in the
world. It is now clear that if the international community fails to act and
fast too, Zimbabwe may be on its way to catastrophe.
In spite of the many hiccups in the Zimbabwean nation, analysts believed
that at the end of the run-off election planned for tomorrow, the country
might be able to reposition itself politically and perhaps begin to address
But the decision of the opposition party to opt out of the elections has
thrown everything back into the air. The opposition had repeatedly reported
state-sponsored violence against its members and the erosion of the basis
for free and fair elections.
The pulling out of the elections has triggered international response. For
the first time, the United Nations Security Council has condemned the style
of governance of Robert Mugabe and threatened to impose sanctions. Even as
the Western countries express misgivings, African countries show less
We are bothered by the humanitarian crises that have already started in
Zimbabwe. We fear that if urgent steps are not taken, the carnage witnessed
in Kenya over similar issue might repeat itself. Already, refugees from
Zimbabwe have swelled the refugee burdens in the continent. It is
disheartening that this avoidable situation has been allowed to take root.
It is bad enough that Robert Mugabe who has ruled Zimbabwe for the past 28
years, has taken the country to the mud. The once buoyant economy has become
a laughing stock of the world.
While its citizens run to neighbouring countries at great risks, the Mugabe
government resists all peaceful ways of achieving political change, even
when all he has to offer is poverty, isolation and death. To add to this is
the use of violence against some of the citizens.
This, the international community cannot continue to watch. After the
general election in December last year, the opposition party candidate
Tsvangarai reportedly won the popular vote but failed to attain the
stipulated percentage of the polls to take government.
Even that can hardly be trusted because of the drama that followed the
counting of the votes. The government refused the announcing of the votes
and only did so after a recount months after. To now frustrate a run-off is
the height of irresponsibility that should never be allowed.
Already, given the intimidation and killing of members of the opposition,
the run-off may not reflect the true view of the people of Zimbabwe. This is
because quite a number of them have fled the country and stooges of the
ruling party cannot represent the population of that country.
That is why we want the international community to ask Robert Mugabe to step
aside, especially as his mandate had elapsed and because the last elections
gave popular votes to his opponent. There should be an interim government to
plan another election.
To facilitate this, we expect concerned African countries to offer Robert
Mugabe and his henchmen, political asylum to allay fears of reprisals in his
country. African countries must be seen to participate actively in resolving
issues like this.
It is sad that African leaders would continue to perpetrate themselves in
power and jeopardise the peace and development of their country men. Time
has come for the UN to review laws of sovereignty and principles of
non-interference to be subject to good and legitimate governance.
The handling of the Kenya's electoral rape was hardly satisfactory. Such
accommodation of evil can only support the repeat of such rape in the
continent. But Zimbabwe must not be allowed to crash because of the
mis-adventure of a senile despot.
The world must act now and do everything that is right and proper to address
the situation before everything goes wrong in Zimbabwe. The people of
Zimbabwe need protection from its government more than ever before.
The statement was made after reports Wednesday that the mining giant plans to invest NOK 2 billion in a new platina mine in Zimbabwe.
The planned investments will according to critics only contribute to support the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.
However, according to the Norwegian Department of Finance, the ethical rules of the Pension Fund states that it is the companies which break human rights, that should be excluded.
Behind Mugabe’s “victory” lies a grim reality. In recent weeks, the Zimbabwean dictator has savagely crushed internal opposition, making Friday's vote more a coronation than an election. Dreading a repeat of March 29, when Mugabe unexpectedly lost the first round of presidential voting to his longtime rival, Morgan Tsvangirai of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), he has sought to efface any possibility of a challenge to his hellish 28-year rule.
Thus was unleashed “Operation Makavhoterapapi?” (Operation Where Did You Put Your Vote?). The question is not rhetorical. A months-long campaign of state-backed repression and mass terror, it has targeted all who dared to vote against Mugabe in March. Thousands have been brutalized; dozens, if not hundreds, are dead. Those Zimbabweans that have not fled the country have been scared into submission. Even Tsvangirai, no stranger to intimidation and worse at the hands of Mugabe’s thugs, has withdrawn from what he calls a “violent sham of an election,” despairing that he “can’t ask the people to cast their vote on June 27 when that vote will cost their lives.”
In fact, it already has. The MDC says that at least 86 of its supporters have been killed since the March 29 vote. Human-rights watchdogs conservatively estimate that at least 10,000 Zimbabweans have been beaten and tortured by ruling-party militias. At least 2,000 have been jailed.
Bearing the brunt of Mugabe’s vengeance are
Instances of ZANU-PF brutality are too many to enumerate, but a few stand out for their sheer depravity. In one case, a man was beaten and castrated with barbed wire, dying later that day in a what Human Rights Watch describes as a “leaning position because he couldn’t lie on his stomach due to his injuries.” The victim’s crime? He had been listening to the March 29 election results on a Voice of America radio program. In another village, a 76-year old woman was dragged before a crowd and beaten with logs until residents confessed to being MDC supporters. Whether they were in fact sympathetic to the MDC is irrelevant; fear, not facts, is the business of Mugabe’s terror squads.
So, too, with the “reeducation camps” that have sprung up
On the evening of May 5,
ruling-party thugs descended on three villages in Mashonaland Central province,
a former Mugabe stronghold that had turned decisively against the dictator on
March 29. Repeating a pattern that has been seen throughout rural
It’s not an isolated incident. At another “reeducation” meeting, armed government soldiers dispensed live ammunition to the villagers. As they held the bullets in their hand, soldiers warned: “If you vote for MDC in the presidential runoff election, you have seen the bullets, we have enough for each one of you, so beware.”
Pre-election violence is nothing new in
That Mugabe must rely on violence as an instrument of policy highlights just how miserably he has failed his country. The economy is a case in point. Independent estimates place inflation at over 165, 000 percent, with food staples especially hard hit. In the last year, the price of chicken has risen by 236,000 percent, eggs by 153,000 percent. A loaf of bread, now priced at over $30 billion Zimbabwean dollars, is unaffordable and, to most Zimbabweans, unavailable. Food shortages are frequent, the legacy of Mugabe’s disastrous seizure of white-owned farms in 2002, a move that crippled the most productive sector of the country’s fallow economy. Unemployment now tops 80 percent.
Worse, there is no relief in sight. Western countries have
passed sanctions and issued the requisite condemnations, but to little effect.
An “African solution” to Mugabe’s menace, meanwhile, is not forthcoming. With a
few exceptions –
Most disgraceful in this regard has been the South African
government of Thabo Mbeki. As the leader of
European countries have issued stern travel warnings advising their citizens
against traveling to Zimbabwe as political tensions continue to mount amid a
controversial presidential run-off poll.
The Germany embassy in Harare this week advised German citizens still in the
troubled southern African country to avoid joining public activities that
might be considered political.
"We are telling our citizens to be cautious because there is a lot of
violence going on around the country, but so far we have not recommended
that anyone leave the country," said Hubertus Klink, deputy head of the
Germany embassy in Harare, in a telephone interview from the Zimbabwean
"Tourist trips must be put on hold and only necessary business trips
undertaken because there are no signs that the violence will decrease," he
In a symbolic move on Wednesday, Britain stripped incumbent Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe of his knighthood, which had been awarded by Queen
Elizabeth II in 1994.
The British mission in Zimbabwe also issued travel warnings as violence
mounted even after the withdrawal of opposition Movement for Democratic
(MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
"We are now advising against all but essential travel to Zimbabwe at this
time due to the continuing tension surrounding the election and the
deployment of uniformed forces (police and military) and war veterans across
the country," read the statement.
African leaders meet without key mediator
Meanwhile southern African leaders met Wednesday for talks on the crisis in
the Swaziland capital of Mbambane as Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
indicated he was open to negotiations with the opposition -- but only after
this week's run-off election.
The talks in Mbambane opened without South African President Thabo Mbeki,
who was appointed mediator for Zimbabwe by the region last March after the
savage beatings of opposition political party leaders in police custody.
Zimbabwe's political crisis deepened on Sunday after Tsvangirai announced he
was pulling out of Friday's presidential run-off election, saying violence
had made a fair vote impossible. Tsvangirai beat Mugabe in the first round
of the election but did not get the majority required to officially take the
presidency from his rival.
The UN Security Council has since condemned the violence in Zimbabwe while
Britain, France and the United States have branded Mugabe's regime as
Mugabe, 84, is accused by critics of driving the once model economy into
ruin and trampling on human rights. The country has the world's highest
inflation rate and is experiencing major food shortages.
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26 June 2008
Morgan Tsvangirai didn't stand a chance, though he and his party clearly won
Zimbabwe's rigged election.
The Movement for Democratic Change is the majority party in that troubled
But Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF cronies have sworn they will never give up
power. So they called up their bully-boy militia to unleash a reign of
terror on their opponents under the watchful eyes of their police and
Almost everyone who has watched this tragedy unfold knows what is happening.
Tsvangirai knows it, Jacob Zuma knows its, and so do the AU, the UN and
everyone else calling for the farcical so-called run-off poll in Zimbabwe to
be called off.
But it still took inordinate guts for Tsvangirai to withdraw from the
election. Participating would only have lent credibility to a sham.
Only a few isolated politicians in South Africa and slightly further afield
believed anything good could come out of Mugabe's pantomime. He stole the
2002 election in a similar fashion.
Now the world must follow up on its bluster. Mugabe and his henchmen must be
isolated economically, politically and morally - the way apartheid
And the already battered folk north of our borders have one last battle to
endure and stand up against his tyranny - just as we did here.
25 June 2008
Posted to the web 26 June 2008
AFRICA has the notoriety of bearing some of the worst rulers in the world.
Zimbabwe, where Robert Mugabe has been President since 1980, is not
At 82, Mugabe is unwilling to leave power. His 28 years have ruined
Zimbabwe. These statistics give a hint of the peoples' trauma -- life
expectancy is 37 years (men), 34 years (women) according to the World Health
Organisation, orphans make up 25 per cent of the population, says UNICEF and
it has the worst inflation in the world at 1,281 per cent last month.
Mugabe is typical of African leaders. His only offence is that he is
tangling with Western interests over land. Had he been an ordinary dictator,
the West would not have cared about elections in the country.
For the West there are good and bad dictators. Mugabe is obviously a bad
There are many examples of the same Western leaders keeping mute as scores
of African leaders ruin their people and cumulatively keep the continent in
darkness. El Haji Omar Bongo Ondimba has been
President of Gabon for 40 years, the world's longest serving President. With
Gabon's oil wealth, he has maintained seeming prosperity under his
repressive rule. The Gabonese National Assembly has guaranteed him unlimited
tenure. At 75, he is not thinking of leaving office.
There are others. Libya has had Muamaar Gaddafi for 39 years. Gaddafi is
only 66. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo has been President of Equatorial
Guinea for 29 years. Some of the forgotten lasting rulers include Hosni
Mubarrak of Egypt and Felix Biya of Cameroun, 27 years each and later
arrivals like Blaise Campaore in Burkina Faso and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
Lansana Conte is 74, and has ruled Guinea after a coup 24 years ago. Even
among those craving for democracy, the example is horrible. Mohammed
Abdelaziz of the Western Sahara, has run the country, since it declared
independence from Morocco 32 years ago. After this list, more than 20 other
leaders who have either over-stayed their elected tenures, or manipulated
the laws to remain in power. Others are coup plotters, or those departing
These are the people calling on Mugabe publicly to leave office. It is
doubtful what they tell him in private. Mugabe is in good company in a
continent of 53 countries, where dictators, former soldiers, who have
plundered their countries, and sit-tight rulers, who answer to imperial
No lessons have been learnt. Cote d'Ivoire still bears the brunt of 33 years
of Felix Houphouet Boigny as President. Only death, at 88, stopped him from
remaining in office. Daniel Toroitich arap Moi was constitutionally forced
out of office at 82. He was President of Kenya for 24 years. Kenya may never
recover from the Moi years.
Zimbabwe's problems are not just the Mugabe years. When he is finally gone,
he would leave his country in tatters -- another grim spot for Africa . The
world has to save what is left of Zimbabwe from Mugabe.
Jeudi 26 juin 2008
By Nicholas RAINER
What's the man to do? Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Zimbabwean
opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is damned if he does
and damned if he doesn't. If he runs in the Zimbabwean elections - which
have become a contradiction in terms, along the same lines as military
intelligence - he will only be lending credibility to what will probably be
a fatally flawed exercise. If he doesn't, he will be giving the world's most
grotesque despot (North Korea's Kim Jong-il trails not far behind) a clean
run to victory. This is probably the type of situation that Joseph Heller
had in mind when he penned his masterpiece, "Catch-22".
Morgan Tsvangirai has made up his mind though. With steely resolve,
the former trade unionist explained in The Guardian yesterday why he has
decided not to challenge 84-year-old Robert Mugabe at the end of the month.
"I can no longer allow Zimbabwe's people to suffer from this torture, for I
believe they can bear no more crushing force. This is why I decided not to
run in the presidential run-off. This is not a political decision. The vote
need not occur at all costs, as the Movement for Democratic Change won a
majority in the previous election, held in March. This is undisputed by the
pro-Mugabe Zimbabwe electoral commission."
He went on to plead for the use military intervention, in the form of
a peacekeeping force not "trouble-makers". But there's a fat chance of that
happening unless Bob discovers black gold in his backyard. Western leaders,
for one, are loath to put their money where their mouths are. For all the
talk about democratic values and the need for free and fair elections,
actions are few and far apart. Admittedly, the international system is based
on the sanctity of the State's sovereignty. Yet this lofty ideal stops
applying as soon as oil comes into play.
For what it's worth though, the white man has done enough harm in
Africa already. Moreover, two of Mugabe's most vociferous critics, the US
and Britain, have lost any moral authority they may once have had since
their murderous invasion of Iraq. And, even if Zimbabwe is far from being a
hotbed of religious fanaticism, any military incursion by these countries
runs the risk of ending in civil war. Only Africa has the legitimacy to take
action against one of its own. This it has patently failed to do.
Rewind to the late 1990s. Thabo Mbeki was adamant about the continent's
ability to move forward together. "Such are the political imperatives of the
African Renaissance which are inspired both by our painful history of recent
decades and the recognition of the fact that none of our countries is an
island which can isolate itself from the rest, and that none of us can truly
succeed if the rest fail. The second of the elements of what we have
described as the genuine liberation of the peoples of Africa is, of course,
an end to the tragic sight of the emaciated child who dies because of hunger
or is ravaged by curable diseases because their malnourished bodies do not
have the strength to resist any illness."
Sadly for the millions of Zimbabweans beset by those very evils, Thabo
Mbeki's bold and inspirational talk of an African Renaissance faltered at
the very first hurdle. And, just like Humpty Dumpty, he's found out the hard
way that sitting on the fence can lead to only one thing: a big fall. The
only question that remains is, "Who's going to pick up the pieces?"